FP3: Russell dominates final practice in Abu Dhabi as Verstappen and Leclerc struggle for pace

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina Circuitae

The final practice at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix delivered a surprising result as Mercedes driver George Russell dominated the action while Ferrari and Red Bull struggled for pace at the Yas Marina Circuit. F1Technical's senior writer Balázs Szabó reports on Free Practice 3.

Having topped the opening practice, Free Practice 3 saw George Russell dominate proceedings once again in warmer conditions. The Mercedes racer clocked a 1m24.418s to beat the McLaren pair of Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri. McLaren's British driver appeared to have the pace to set the session's benchmark time, but he almost lost the back end of his MCL60 in the final corner and had to settle to P2.

Williams displayed eye-catching performance in Sector 1 and 2, and Alexander Albon made good use of that, setting the fourth-quickest lap of the session, half a second off Russell's benchmark. His team-mate Logan Sargeant was two tenths of a second slower which was still enough for the eighth quickest lap of the session.

Ferrari concentrated on their heavy fuel run in the first half of the one-hour session, but they struggled for pace when Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz rejoined the track on a fresh set of soft tyres. The Monegasque ended the session fifth quickest while the Spaniard brought up the rear of the field despite no apparent technical issues.

Max Verstappen encountered balance struggles on Friday which continued across the final practice hour, and he took only sixth in the final standings. His team-mate Sergio Perez had a quiet session en route to 11th, followed by Lewis Hamilton, who did not have the eye-catching pace of his team-mate Russell.

It was incredibly tight once again in the midfield with Alpine driver Esteban Ocon taking seventh. His team-mate Pierre Gasly set the 13th fastest time.

Aston Martin had an encouraging opening day yesterday, but they made a step backward on the warmer track with Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll finishing 14th and 15th fastest for the Silverstone-based outfit.

Alfa Romeo had a quiet final session in Abu Dhabi. The American team's Zhou Guanyu took 10th while his team-mate Valtteri Bottas missed the first corner on his first flying lap on his second fresh set of soft tyres and his best effort was only enough for P16 in the end.

Haas pair Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen sandwiched the AlphaTauri of Daniel Ricciardo in positions P17 to P19 while the Australian's team-mate Yuki Tsunoda set the ninth quickest lap with a time of 1m25.222s.


163George RussellMercedes1:24.41814
24Lando NorrisMclaren Mercedes1:24.513+0.095s16
381Oscar PiastriMclaren Mercedes1:24.810+0.392s16
423Alexander AlbonWilliams Mercedes1:24.929+0.511s17
516Charles LeclercFerrari1:25.099+0.681s27
61Max VerstappenRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:25.153+0.735s19
731Esteban OconAlpine Renault1:25.194+0.776s18
82Logan SargeantWilliams Mercedes1:25.205+0.787s17
922Yuki TsunodaAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:25.222+0.804s15
1024Zhou GuanyuAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:25.258+0.840s23
1111Sergio PerezRed Bull Racing Honda Rbpt1:25.259+0.841s21
1244Lewis HamiltonMercedes1:25.292+0.874s26
1310Pierre GaslyAlpine Renault1:25.303+0.885s18
1414Fernando AlonsoAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:25.343+0.925s25
1518Lance StrollAston Martin Aramco Mercedes1:25.405+0.987s24
1677Valtteri BottasAlfa Romeo Ferrari1:25.420+1.002s16
1727Nico HulkenbergHaas Ferrari1:25.584+1.166s22
183Daniel RicciardoAlphatauri Honda Rbpt1:25.597+1.179s15
1920Kevin MagnussenHaas Ferrari1:25.652+1.234s20
2055Carlos SainzFerrari1:25.713+1.295s29